Handle With Love

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will NEVER forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

I find that quote absolutely true for every good and bad situation, event and person in my life. When I think of my first good memories, I remember my Grandpa Meyers. I do not remember many of his words and even if I do, I remember how those words made me feel. I remember some of the fun, kind and caring things he did for me and my gang of friends at the time, but most importantly I remember how he made me feel. My Grandpa Meyers always made me feel like I was special and loved deeply by him.

Feeling special + Feeling loved = HAPPINESS

Of course, my children provide most of my positive memories since the second I first found out I was pregnant. It is mostly loving them unconditionally forever from the instant I conceived and being loved back by them that gives me the most joy and purpose in my life.

On the flip side, my most vivid negative memories are associated with feelings of shame, anger and sadness. For example, when I was punished for wetting the bed nearly every day until I was twelve years old, I remember the negative shameful words because of how those words made me feel. I cannot remember the physical pain caused by the spankings, but I still unfortunately feel deep rooted shame and anger towards my father for causing it to happen. I was punished and shamed for a behavior I had no control over. I continue to recover and heal from the painful emotional wounds I have now learned affected every aspect of my life.

The most traumatic memories are remembered most vividly and are impossible to forget. We cannot forget them, but we can learn to live with them in a healthy and safe manner. This of course takes time and work. Mindfulness has greatly helped me and continues to.

Other people in your life may have experienced or witnessed the same event but may not remember it the same way or at all, because it was not traumatic to them. You on the other hand remember every detail of the event.

When looking back at your life, what are the memories you remember the most and how did they make you feel?

My negative memories are filled with feelings of anger, shame, and fear.

My positive memories are filled with the emotions of joy, pride and love–loving others and/or feeling loved.

In everything we do with others, I think we should always remember the quote by Maya Angelou,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will NEVER forget how you made them feel.”

To make a positive difference in the lives of others always listen, love deeply and make them feel like you care about them. Make them feel special. Let them know they matter and have a great purpose in this lifetime.

I think I always tried to treat people the way I wished I would have been treated. Growing up I had little to no self-esteem. Honestly, deep down I was ashamed of myself. My parents instilled that in me from a young age. I wished I felt good about myself, so I wanted to help others feel good about themselves. I guess I treated people how I wanted to be treated and feel. I never wanted others to feel the way I did.

Helping others helped me feel better about myself. It was and is a win win situation.

In the process of helping and loving others, eventually I learned to help and love myself.

Self actualization and loving myself are lifelong lessons I continue to take and experience. I am currently being home schooled every day by the faculty of myself, my family and everyone around me. I also learn from books, blogs, social media, television and movies–I learn a lot from documentaries. These all continue to be a big part of my curriculum for my lifelong lessons on love and the meaning of life.

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Thank you for reading. I have been so busy, I have not had time to write for a while but I always miss it and need it. Writing has always been very therapeutic for me. Plus, I miss all the amazing people in this fabulous blogging community that actually helped save my life. I hope you are all doing well and staying safe during this difficult time of Covid-19 and the United States election. I was thinking of taking a long nap until the election was over. Just kidding, but I am looking forward to when the election is finally over. Please VOTE. I know I will.

Much love always,
Sue

© Copyright 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope 

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My Dark Passenger, Can I Detach? Part One

The dark passenger is an old friend. I have known this something for so long, and I know if I give it space, it may never leave me, and detach we can be separate. Less depressive episodes would be a significant step in a direction.

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My Dark Passenger. I remember when I first named my depression, the dark passenger. It was sometime after my first psychiatric ward visit. It felt right, and to be honest, to have a name for it, that identity was a way to separate from the depression, but it was not really a separation in truth. I gave it a name, a place in my life, and it has always been my downfall. Sure, I have won battles since it became a part of me, but I have yet to win the war. It is always there, but does it have to be?

I have talked recently about detachment, and it is something that I am learning in life coaching. Recently, I was talking with someone, and they said something that stuck with me since. Creating a space for myself and detach the dark passenger. It was a challenge from this person, and I wondered if I could because as much as I have shed my life’s identities, this is a major one. I have no doubt the ability to detach is within me. I created the dark passenger, and letting go is something that I am getting better at over the last two months. 

The dark passenger is an old friend. I have known this something for so long, and I know if I give it space, it may never leave me, and detach we can be separate. Less depressive episodes would be a significant step in a direction. It is not like I have not done it before, because I have gone long stretches, much like my depression cycles of the past, without depression. It has been more challenging this year, as things have been tough at times. I know I bring it up, but losing my mom was a significant event in my life, and while I have had tremendous strides in allowing space for my grieving process. There are milestones in the first year of a loss that I have to face. I would like to face these events detached from my dark passenger.

I want to challenge the very idea that depression is just something that is a part of me, which, since my diagnosis, all the professionals in my life its been the party line. That is just ludicrous because, while I can get depressed, I have seen first hand that it does not have to control me. I can allow it to me, and the next step is to detach and perhaps, for now, handcuff the dark passenger to me, so that when it wants to be a part of my life, I can tell it, NO. Try it. Tell you depression, no. I bet it will change everything.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

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Detachment from Scenarios

I will be vague about the event in the sense that I will share an event that was troubling me a lot because of the negative feelings I was associating with this person. It was my feelings that were driving a wedge between myself and this person. What did detaching myself from the situation do for me? It gave me a chance to shift my perspective.

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I wanted to open this blog post with a disclaimer, I am not an expert in life coaching or any realm of psychology and therapy. I will always come from someone who shares his experience with mental illness and what comes along with what I am learning through life coaching and reading. So, what is detachment? Well, let us turn to Eckhart Tolle for a great quote.

When you are detached, you gain a higher vantage point from which to view the events in your life instead of being trapped inside them. – Eckhart Tolle

Over the past almost two weeks now, I have experienced complete attachment from events causing massive negative and depressive issues in my life. When I decided to detach from the event, seeing my life as Eckhart said, my life was surreal from a different vantage point. I was trapped inside these events so bad that self-doubts, self-loathing, negative thoughts, and dare I say some thoughts of giving up on life.

I will be vague about the event in the sense that I will share an event that was troubling me a lot because of the negative feelings I was associating with this person. It was my feelings that were driving a wedge between myself and this person. What did detaching myself from the situation do for me? It gave me a chance to shift my perspective. See the event from a different vantage point. I went into the event with an open mind. I noticed what was triggering me and bothering me was my ego trying to take hold of the situation. I chose positive intentions over negative ones. I detached entirely from the event and went in with just the facts. I came out with a better understanding that there is a different way of approaching an event with negative connotations or anytime that I feel the ego awakening (again, please read Eckhart Tolle to fully understand.)

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Something my life coach told me–take consistent action. It makes so much sense now when I apply it to my life. Since my mom’s loss in December, I have felt like the punching bag of everyone that comes into my life, but in truth, I was playing the victim identity card. I allowed depression to be an excuse for my lack of energy or feeling like general crap. Depression is an emotion, but it can be a part of what is going on without controlling you. For the first time in forever, it seems my depression hit a ONE. I am not sure of the time or if this ever actually happened before.

What shifted? Everything. My approach. My attitude. Checking my ego at the door. Allowing detachment to give me a higher vantage point that I needed to look at the event. It is something that can and will be replicated in my life. I am tired of being the person that hides from the problems and events because I am here to tell you, they will continue to keep coming up in this life. So I leave you with hope. Change the narrative. Detach from the event. You will feel better for it. As always, stay strong in the fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

My Memoir

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Contributor Writers for The Bipolar Writer Blog

I am only looking for contributor writers at this moment. What I do is add you to my blog as a contributor. All I need is to add your email. You can write about any subject about mental illness. You pick the categories and the post must have a featured picture. I will have the final say on if it gets published. If you become a regular contributor, I will change your status to the rank of author

Since day one of the inception of The Bipolar Writer blog I had a plan of how things were going to go on my blog. When I hit 2,000 followers the plan was to start a series of interviews of other members of the mental illness community. It was amazing to finally start my interview series where I feature the stories of others. It’s been successful so far.

I am close to another milestone for my blog and I am looking towards the future of my blog as I near 15,000 followers, I am looking to add more contributors to blog because the stories of others is important to me. These contributors roles are as follows according to WordPress:

Contributor – has no publishing or uploading capability, but can write and edit their own posts until they are published.

I am only looking for contributor writers at this moment. What I do is add you to my blog as a contributor. All I need is to add your email. You can write about any subject about mental illness. You pick the categories and the post must have a featured picture. I will have the final say on if it gets published. If you become a regular contributor, I will change your status to the rank of author:

Author – can write, upload photos to, edit, and publish their own posts.

If you are interested please email me at JamesEdgarSkye22@gmail.com

I am really excited to expand to allow more contributor writers on my blog. I think it will help to get different stories and blog posts on different topics within the mental health community. It’s an opportunity to continue the growth of The Bipolar Writer brand, and really talk about the issues as we fight to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

My Memoir

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron! You can get this amazing cup!

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Could I Move on from Blogging?

I think that is why I am pushing so hard lately to get a great list of authors on the website to always have words written here. I don’t mind paying the yearly fee to keep this blog going if it is still a safe place for mental illness/mental health advocacy writers to call it home. If I can swell the number to fifty members to end 2020, it might be the perfect storm where this blog goes on without me.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Blogging will always have a special place in my heart, as it was here, within the confines of this blog, that I found my place with my writing. I found a group of people with like-minded ideas about sharing the stories of mental illness. The encouragement I got allowed me to write my memoir. I wonder, though, will I always be able to write here or will a time come that I will move on.

I think that is why I am pushing so hard lately to get a great list of authors on the website to always have words written here. I don’t mind paying the yearly fee to keep this blog going if it is still a safe place for mental illness/mental health advocacy writers to call it home. If I can swell the number to fifty members to end 2020, it might be the perfect storm where this blog goes on without me.

Where is this coming from? I have been dealing with stress more in 2020 than at any other time in my life. I know everyone is dealing with anxiety, depression, and stress. The list is probably longer than that if I am honest. For me, it is many things at once. Starting my business. Finishing my Master’s degree. Publishing my novella. Writing projects and writing this blog. Going through Life Coaching while still trying to find the confidence in my writing. Then, of course, losing my mom. Almost a year has gone by. How do I deal with that in December? My hope is to not be a mess.

I love what I have created here, and for the foreseeable, I will continue to write as much as humanly possible so that things will be in the right place in my life. The need to share my story continues here, and the magnetic pull is still here. Writing blog posts is my center, and it helps me continue throughout my day, so a baseline would be an accurate account of why I still write here. When that day comes when I am ready to move on, then I will. There is too much as stake to give up this space for good because the mental illness stories we share help fight mental health stigma. Perhaps someone reading this post will find their place among the writers here. Stay strong in the fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

My Memoir

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Seasonal Affective Disorder in COVID-19 World

So much is happening in our world. We have to remember that our mental health is more important than what is going on in the news or social media. One of the things I am considering is a total social media shut down until the end of the year for me, that means outside of this blog, I will delete my social media accounts from my phone, the only way that I access social media. I have a friend that is considering giving up her phone by 2021, and that even sounds like a good idea if I wasn’t launching my business.

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I know we are just rounding into Fall from the summer, and winter is still on the horizon. Whenever I talk about SAD for some reason, I always think like a geek that “Winter is coming.” Watching Game of Thornes always reminded me that the seasonal affective disorder part of my diagnosis is real in the winter months. These are the months that I struggle most, and in an ordinary world, I could handle it. We live in a COVID-19 “new normal,” and I worry about those who will be struggling more than usual.

For myself, it will be some rough months. I have my mom’s one-year griefversary of her passing. I will use what I learned, including detached emotions, to deal with, but I will have days. This time around, I have a plan. People who care and I can reach out to when things become muddled. I am going to allow the depression that comes to have its space in my life. Why let it control me? I have for many years, and that has gotten me nowhere good. The seasonal affective disorder is real, and I usually suffer from October to about May. It has been better the last, and I have better tools to deal with it this year.

So much is happening in our world. We have to remember that our mental health is more important than what is going on in the news or social media. One of the things I am considering is a total social media shut down until the end of the year for me, that means outside of this blog, I will delete my social media accounts from my phone, the only way that I access social media. I have a friend that is considering giving up her phone by 2021, and that even sounds like a good idea if I wasn’t launching my business.

I have so much to do, including putting the finishing touches on my book and publishing it in October. All I am waiting for is my graphic artist to come through. I am nearing the end of a two-year trek to finish my Master’s in February, and I am considering Literature Ph.D. programs as the next logical step in my profession as a writer. My business and grieving my mom means the next three months will be exciting, engaging, and heartbreaking. SAD will not get me down.

I have not done this in a while, so I pose the question to those reading this post right now. In this new normal world we live in, are you taking precautions like me to ensure your seasonal affective disorder is not worse this fall and winter months because of COVID-19 or any other factors?

Please leave you responses below, I would love to hear your take on COVID-19 and seasonal affective disorder.

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

My Memoir

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron! You can get this amazing cup!

Beyond Compulsion

Its time to talk a little about the freedom from going beyond my compulsion of finding answers to old obsessions.

I mentioned exposure response prevention therapy (ERP), which is when we dive into feelings associated with our obsessions, usually anxiety.   Well here’s one for me;

I read an article related to an obsession I had, well it was differen’t it was more of a disturbing conflict but I can treat it as an obsession now.

The article talks of the latest understanding of origins of the Universe being quantum fluctuation. My obsession was extremely disturbed by the idea of ‘something’ as opposed to ‘nothing’ being the axiom. An axiom is an innate fact, in for example mathematics, I believe, I won’t look it up but there’s some vocab for you. So, I would doubt reality itself. Not in a way that was interesting, but in a way which was disturbing.

So briefly on the article – that’s cool, but that’s still ‘something’. Why, or rather how, would the quantum fluctuation have started? Should that not be there? The idea of God didn’t help my condition as it is somewhat kicking the can down the road, impossible to grasp, and even so, that’s still ‘something’. Clearly nothing satisfied my ‘problem’.  The compulsion of mental argument did not solve any of it. What i call the ‘antidote’ does, which allows me to gracefully step out of it.

The origins of the universe is an interesting topic to physicians… what I was doing is not that, not healthy, my mind simply latched onto it since a pretty young age, and still it becomes a rush of anxiety and disturbing feeling of conflict.

The answer to my ‘problem’ now, outside of the conflict, is that it is OK that ‘something’ is the axiom. There’s nothing wrong with that. My antidote was right. (this is my antidote of recent times – ‘‘the axiom being something, not nothing’’).

How on earth is this related to an illness? Catastrophic feelings are my illness. A feeling that something is horribly wrong was there whilst reading, and a feeling of overwhelming responsibility which OCDers get came along, but I do not feel delusional anymore. This is a success and a huge step for me.

I am writing to help myself in ways which are profound and provide clarity, which is worthy of recording. Isn’t it just like a diary? Yea but I have a good structure now and putting it all together will really help me, but also potentially provide an interesting read.

Rewind. I touch reality by letting go of ‘nothing’ being the axiom. Therefore, It’s Okay to let the search go. It is useful to remember, that any thought or feeling or mental block isn’t real. Even the disturbing conflict is not real. In a sense, the present moment is the only thing happening therefore the breath is the only thing real. I often would not speak of obsessions because of how irrational they were: this is indeed common, but it was my only mistake, and one that I would indeed shout my mouth off at my teenage-self to rectify. I guess, mental blocks, addiction, and debauchery (alcohol, not the other two: sex and drugs, they wouldn’t work due to lack of pleasure for the most part) stopped me from attempting to explain things for the first time until well into adulthood.

My condition now latches onto how others feel as well as  ‘real event’ OCD.

So how on earth does one treat that, if the thing is potentially ‘real’. Or at least relates to a real event. Well may we realise it’s the same game the OCD is playing– the feelings, the mental argument (my compulsion): OCD has taken the real event and twisted it and unleashed a tsunami in the brain and subsequently the mind.

Most people do not speak of their problems, true, they choose to get smashed or ignore them, however, if genuine mental illness is present, it is probably important that problems are examined, because they stop us being able to function on a day to day basis. Throughout my life, natural enjoyment has been sucked from me by my mental illness, whilst trying to function by attempting to hold down countless jobs or relationships. Being ‘selfish’ at a young age would have been a good shout for me, like becoming a hermit in a tree.

By training to live without the addiction too, I am not responding to the compulsive urge I mentioned last time. It is correct that this is necessary, it being an overlapping symptom of core emotions.

A ‘music’ obsession over ten years ago was just as severe as relationship and harm OCD I had, and it wasn’t even violent or existential like in more recent times. See it wasn’t about the topic at all. This does show, by me as a prime example, that the theme of the obsession is never ending, it is not the problem even though it feels like it, its not to do with the theme its to do with how we respond to it, rather, the compulsion is something we need to begin to be mindful of and quit fighting, arguing, chasing or legitamizing the obsession.

Instead, let’s build innate self-worth and acceptance by beginning to, and proceeding to not perform the compulsions, whatever your compulsions may be. They are a response keeping the fire burning. It seems with me today, that unconditional acceptance trumps OCD. But getting there, now that’s going to be very different in terms of difficulty levels for everyone who suffers; A ladder of exposures may help (ERP), meditation may help (learning mindfulness), more traditional therapy (CBT) may be of assistance. A combination of these has set me on my way now. Mental health is more important than anything in life. Never again will I not unconditionally accept what is going on up in my grey nut. Never again will I not incorporate what I’ve learnt and ultimately accept myself. Never again will I feel regret, guilt, listen to the doubt stream or shame. There’s nothing wrong with reasonable regrets, nevertheless whilst exacerbated it is like I say – a red herring in this sh*t. I suffer with what they call ‘real event OCD’.  Relationship and harm OCD I now have totally managed. But real event is tricky due to playing on real events, sometimes things which others find insignificant, but sometimes with significant events too. Not to mention false or exacerbated memories.

So, mental argument as a compulsion:

There has been trauma in my recent past, but despite this, being able to reflect on the outside of my illness is a joy. As I have now presented to you, there is such thing as the compulsion of mental argument, which fuels an overwhelming feeling of responsibility and is fuelled by, especially, feelings such as doubt and guilt. I’ve had it constant throughout the day before, now with bandwidth I can delegitamize it. Upon reflection, there was not ‘thinking’ going on, like spontaneous and organic thinking. Instead, the arguments were a form of self-sabotage, a hunt for an answer to ‘resolve’ the doubt stream, which is what compulsions are.

It’s so obvious it was a compulsion when I remember what I used to do – try to find an answer all day, but even when I did it wouldn’t stick for long. Such as ten years ago when my OCD was at its worse when not violent in a topic, about my music course, but it was merciless in its severity.

This mentally manifested OCD aka ‘pure O’ is the same as someone performing physical compulsions, which are tiring and tedious, depressing and exhausting… but in the head instead: the chasing of an uncertainty, the fuelling of a doubt. An answer really does not stick and you can get pulled deeper and deeper into the lava stream, therefore, any real ‘answers’ come a million miles away from this condition.

As I mentioned, before when young and more recently, I did have more well-known themes resurface such as relationship OCD and harm OCD, both extremely debilitating. I am going to search my intellect and soul (Ok I admit a ‘spiritual’ reference here although I wasn’t into that much), for the answers and the reflection, at a time more important than any, since therapy both professional and personal. No one least my intrusive thoughts can stop me.

Since returning to this, I feel I can use this writing as the key to a happier, more content mind.  I’ve been on the verge of it for some time.  Going the extra mile has not been so easily seen.  Breaking through the fog is happening: Going the extra mile.


I assume that it is possible to be fixed but not cured, as I could say I was fixed for many short periods throughout my twenties, but then after a while, mental illness would come back to munch on my grey matter. Literally? I don’t know, I’m not a neuroscientist yet. It would come back because I did not have total understanding of my somewhat diverse web of symptoms and misunderstood my compulsion as legit, and not know what it would take for consistent recovery.

On my second round of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) at age twenty-three, I was shown Dr Paul Salkovskis’ diagram about OCD and its maintaining factors. A ‘mental argument’ was a factor in fuelling the intrusions, alongside anxiety and depression, alongside physical compulsions and checking, alongside reasoning bias. Reasoning bias is an interesting one because I would often see things as ‘proof’ that the obsessions were significant. The feeling it reinforced was overpowering when engaging in that sh*t.

It was a great diagram which is why I kept it and even photocopied it for my friends at Brighton Priory hospital three years ago. I realised, when I had that round of CBT, that I was doing it with a single obsession I had, (the mental argument), but I did not recognise the extent of my illness (hidden behaviours like avoidance). I did not explain my mental blocks they could have also been to blame for non-consistent recovery. Autism is a possibility here too because it’s in my family.

So we fixed me at the time by applying ERP by using a loop tape of the ‘should statements’, which was eventually a huge relief as you desensitize yourself to the obsessions. I’d listen to them in particular when my anxiety was highest throughout the day, or when I was experiencing a particularly intense flare up. A predominant ‘should’ statement; the mental conflict was a preoccupation. The feelings involved I’d say are what mental illness is. Catastrophic for me but now letting go is the game I play, or at least take the feelings with me throughout the day.

So the most common ‘should’ statements for me were: ‘‘should I be doing the music’’, since that old course that it latched onto, and similar to the first one when I was very young, which came back in recent times of: ‘‘should I stab myself in the neck’’.  The subsequent rumination was much darker somewhat than just answering it, it latched onto my self-worth as a person. It was only the ‘benign’ topic because at the time I had dropped a music course and my OCD went mental.

Way back when, loop tapes of any thoughts related to the obsessions and new understanding worked, I was fixed, but unfortunately not fixed for so long back then, because I was quick to switch obsessions, pick up addictions, as well as real event obsessions taking over. I have overlooked real event OCD until recent times. The mental review is exhausting. I have not really come across anyone with mental blocks like me, despite chatting many times up my support group. I also did not talk about the existential phenomenon (i also called it) that was present, which was always a delusion, unfortunately different to derealisation from obsessions. Derealisation from obsessions occur when we perform a compulsion so much, that we become incredibly detached and feel spaced out. But what it was is irrelivant now.

More unclear compulsive thinking like chasing uncertainties I tend to call ‘rumination’. It is part of the same compulsion, because they are all about fuelling the intrusive images, urges or feelings such as doubts and exacerbated guilt (keeping an obsession an obsession).  Doubts are endless. Takes a while to get that. Once one feels resolved, due to the condition, the brain picks up another, and another, and another, until exhaustion is the least troublesome symptom. Does rumination occur about anything positive? I have discovered it does respond to excitement, so we will see, but it isn’t helpful, not really, upon reflection it is a response to the doubt stream, just lighter and sneaky. I have been swimming deep, at times, in the lava stream under waves of doubt.

If I didn’t have my condition, I’d dismiss an intrusive thought I have right now about unjustly judgements, as I know that what most people do when they are being judgemental is reflecting what is wrong with themselves… it is about them, not you. With me though, the thoughts around the obsession fuel a hyped up feeling of resentment and it is tricky to say the least. It’s a mini obsession because there is huge amounts of self-sabotage going on. Good training though, can I truly build bandwidth and let it go? The emotions don’t go so easy. But they will if I don’t fuel them. Sit with them, give them tea. But I will not feed them breakfast fuel for the fire they so badly want to kindle.

A few years ago, I would desperately tell my friends about my OCD on social media, this was not a mental argument exactly, I wasn’t finding answers to the doubt stream, or chasing uncertainties, it was, however just not a very wise thing to do if I appeared self-centred. The potential rumination I was subconsciously was heading toward did not help unravel whatever my obsession was at the time, or help my mental health, unfortunately, because my thinking was sporadic. Memory becomes affected I’d often forget what I actually said.

‘Should I, shouldn’t I’, contradictory obsessions, confusing anxiety, depression, desolation by mental block: These are my condition. I tend to be a kind and caring person. However, OCD can latch on to everyday things, and turn the slightest judgements of myself, or others into mini obsessions. This is something that has indeed gone on until recent times, and I am unravelling right now: the rumination, I’m onto ya, it’s still there somewhat and its still unreasonable. Therefore…

Sir, it is safe to say ‘Pure O’ still affects me in the form of ‘mental review’. It is a response to exacerbated emotions, which come along predominantly with OCD. It causes depression. I will review endlessly what I said in social situations, I will review many aspects of everyday life. It sure is doubt driven and hard to really get that at first.

It is an illusion of the disorder that the compulsion is of some benefit especially with lighter rumination. It is a million miles away from problem solving even when it feels important. Everyone has doubts right, but this is different, they don’t got it as a compulsion.

What to do if you feel caught up with an obsession? Getting the obsessions down on paper does not always work if you are still trying to answer it. Ignoring the condition makes it worse. Therefore, like for me in the beginning, CBT did not go the right way initially with this. CBT with exposure response prevention (ERP), however, is a better way, there’s nothing wrong with finding core fears, I just was not introduced effectively to the process. (Try a loop tape like with me, or exposing yourself gradually to, say knives or other situations, depending on your manifestation). I’ll try to explain things clearly, with accuracy, and hopefully get to where I need to be, and create an exciting read whether or not I share this with the world.

I have come a long way, light me a victory dance, but realize I still need to recognize a mental compulsion when it arises, delegitimize it, and accept any judgements, which arise. Judgements can be sporadic and compulsive! No amount of mental review that goes on as a disorder consists of any product, it only serves to fuel the feelings for instance exacerbated guilt, and it is not about problem-solving. I have heard sufferers talk about real event OCD and it is indeed hard when it linked to a real, legitimate scenario… however, the feelings that we are fuelling: they are the illness. It does not matter if it is on a real event, it is quite simply wrong to be hostile towards ourselves. Paying attention and examining without ‘answering’ is paramount and allowing with calm bandwidth, instead of the doubtful streams taking up bandwidth, is key.

I suppose that, the core feelings simply are not present in the non-sufferer therefore none of this is even an issue in the slightest… therefore, I was cursed, but now blessed due to having the compassion that I may not have had in a parallel dimension.

In my self-help corner of the room, alongside my fantastic musical taste, I read the ‘Mindfulness OCD Workbook’ by Jon Hershfield and Tom Corboy (which helped me realise that mental review was still my condition). It is easy to follow and a compassionate read. Another new weapon in my arsenal is the ‘Mind Workout’ by Mark Freeman. A true master full of innovation. These have been an adjunct to my therapy, and I could get used to my newfound focus. We are changing all the time, mentally and physically, but usually, people are themselves, i.e. have innate mental health. I suppose what I am doing right now, is I am noticing compulsiveness in the mind, not responding, letting it go, building stronger neuronal connections, and enjoying it.

Even less intense rumination can become tedious. And another intrusive doubt will always take its place once one is ‘resolved’. Realise this, fully. Take as looong as I need not to fuel my condition.

I must realise now how good freedom from the compulsion is, keep writing and meditating, and remember what it did consume. It is bliss compared to what it was.

Free of conflict means that I can focus all my ERP efforts on my condition and continue to do what I want to do. 







My Journey to Stability, Pt. 2

“…you’re the spawn of the Devil!” 

After watching the pictures fly across the room, my husband turned back to his screen, acting unfazed by my actions or words.  His response, or lack thereof, only confirmed my decision; I had to reveal him to the world as the true demon he was to me. Red flags waved the last four years, but I brushed them away, creating excuses for his behavior and words. He was a narcissistic bastard taking advantage of my ignorance. For all those years, I blamed myself for everything he did said, convincing myself it was my fault for the way he treated me. I needed to learn my place in his sick world. Being young and naive, I did not realize how I was being manipulated by someone who was supposed to love me.  

I wanted to scream, but the sound never left my throat. Instead, I staggered over to my chair, sitting down with an obscene lack of grace and nearly toppling over. My desk was a mess, but what I was looking for was within easy reach. The Jameson thudded against the wood as I snatched up a white bottle. Effexor was the anti-depressant I was prescribed after a questionnaire was given to me for the Bipolar diagnostic process in 2007, of which it was determined I had Major Depression, not Bipolar Disorder. Several attempts to find a medication were made to help me feel somewhat normal. None of them worked, but I stuck with Effexor despite the roller coaster. 

By Shara Adams

I did not feel suicidal, but the world needed to open its eyes and see him for who he was. The world needed to see me, to save me from the hell I was living. Rising to my feet, I opened the white bottle and poured out a handful pills. I reached for the Jameson without counting the capsules and set my reserve; I knew what I had to do to save myself and destroy him. My shoulders rolled back with determination, but my thoughts remained a jumbled mess from the alcohol and my inundated emotions. The world was spinning, and I did not know what to think or feel. All I knew was I had to escape the pathetic excuse of a man. 

“Is this what you wanted?” 

Turning to face me, I smirked with satisfaction. I had his full undivided attention, for once. The impact I planned on having with my actions, played over and over in my head. I did not know what was going to happen, and my mind did not consider the consequences which were possible. Blinded by the potential freedom, I could not back away from my decision. As I held the pills in my hand with a drink in the other, I threw them all to the back of my throat and followed them with the last of the Jameson.

Relief washed over me as I sat back down, ignoring him. I felt I had done the right thing, but after several minutes, the world started to disappear and I began to question myself – like always. I tried to blame it on the entire bottle of liquor, which I had consumed in a matter of a few hours. About ten minutes later, a knock on our apartment door brought the light back, but I could not move. Before I reached the count of three, five to six people swarmed into our small space and surrounded me both physically and verbally. I was confused as to who they were, why they were here, and what they were asking, but I responded to their probing questions as best I could. The realization hit me like a brick after several questions: they were paramedics.

My husband had called 911. For once in his life, he may have done the right thing.

By Shara Adams

More stories can be found at pennedinwhite.com

Why a Mental Illness is a Big Deal

I’ve been depressing for awhile now -as in, dealing with Depression. I’ve also entertained its close friend, Anxiety; plus a few hangers-on like Disassociation, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Social Phobias. I didn’t even know those existed till they walked off with some of my mental furniture.

Once I’m back to staring at the cracked ceiling of an empty apartment, I wonder why mental illness is such a BIG DEAL. Why does it always have the ability to kick my butt this badly every time?

Photo by Inzmam Khan on Pexels.com

Because, Mental Illness is a BIG deal.

Yesterday, I witnessed a boy who collapsed into a hysterical fit when his mother said they had to ride in the elevator. A perfectly healthy friend had to reschedule her doctor’s appointment for “a better day.” Another friend told how she could not sleep in the same room as her baby, since the baby’s normal breathing patterns kept her up all night.

Minor issues become major. Small things are big. Mole hills are mountains!

So, now what? Treats? Bed? Movie marathon? I wish. Those things cost money! We need practicality before the rest of our sanity escapes out the window, and takes the rest of the chocolate with it.

Knowing that a mental illness blows things out of proportion is empowering. How? When one of my kids starts melting down, I KNOW to back off and get him a snack. When fear and anxiety cloud my horizon, I KNOW to get outside for a walk. When my friend says she needs to talk, I KNOW to drop everything and listen.

Am I freaking out? Don’t have a mental couch to collapse on? I take a break. I breathe. I run a meditative exercise. Try it; re-focus with what works for you. Then, try the basics: sleep, food, love, happiness.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

On the flip side, stop doing the little things that make it worse: staying up, eating crap, avoiding affection, and wallowing in sadness.

Sounds easy, right? It really is. The trick is to not make it difficult. “Just go get in the shower,” I tell myself. “Just get in there and sit -you don’t even have to wash yet.” Or, “Wrap up in a blanket and hang out on the porch. You don’t have to get dressed.”

See? Believe me, I’m in the camp of making a simple thing much more complicated. I also know how BIG I feel once I get past the little, white lies of my mental illness.

 

©2020 Chel Owens

My Journey to Stability, Pt. 1

Excitedly, I join this blog’s wonderful team. I have been passionate about mental health for many years, and I hope to be able to share my journey as I continue to navigate through life with a mental illness. I was diagnosed with Bipolar II in 2009 (also in 2004, but I was a minor) and just like many others, my road has not been easy. I am a survivor of domestic abuse, so the hurdles I have jumped remind me of what I am capable of overcoming, no matter what life can dish out. Though I plan to write a memoir of all my experiences, here I would like to simply share my road to stability and beyond. It is not a lighthearted tale at first, but it is an important one. Just as the past is important, so is the future. We are amazing and the world needs to know all our stories.

My Journey to Stability, Pt. 1

With a bottle of Jameson in one hand, wedding pictures in the other, and a kitchen knife at my side, tears ran down my cheeks and frantic thoughts pounded in my skull. I sat, knees to chest on the bed, contemplating my next move. After being together for five years, I was beginning to understand the danger of our year-old marriage. You were an evil entity in my life and even my drunk mind believed the thoughts whispered in its ear. I spent more time intoxicated than sober when I was around you or thinking about you. The things you did to me, or made me do, were not normal for a healthy relationship.

After a Colorado courthouse wedding, we decided it was time to move to the state we shared our vows. I found a job before we moved, and you were taking your remote job with you to our new home. If I drank a lot before we moved, it only increased ten-fold with our arrival in the mountains. You were either emotionally absent or degrading me enough to force me to try and forget your words. It was as if our vows, the year before, meant nothing to you. Perhaps they did not, and never had, but I was determined to keep up my end of the bargain. I loved you, but I questioned my sanity because of it.

Another swig of liquor and my eyes thrummed with intoxication. Our blurry smiles made no sense to me as my gaze passed from distorted faces to the shiny metal of the knife. No, it was not for you. It was never for you because I was always the problem…not you. You made me believe I was destroying our marriage, not your flirting, sexual escapades, or even an unhealthy relationship with bottom shelf vodka. At an impasse, I sat on the bed for close to an hour, trying to sort through shifting thoughts and emotions. In my heart, I knew what I had to do, but my courage hesitated as I left the knife on the bed and stumbled to the living room, where you sat at your computer.

My face was set with a determination and anger I had never felt before. Perhaps it was a spark of hatred, but at the time, such a notion was wishful thinking. With the bottle in one hand, and the photo album in the other, I made myself heard. The words poured from my lips with ease, as if I had been wanting to say them for years and had lacked the courage before. I felt no regret and stood tall with a newfound strength. I watched the pictures float to the floor, smiling with a grim understanding of my next move.

“…you’re the spawn of the Devil!”

Your Shadow By Shara Adams

(More stories can be found at pennedinwhite.com)

All pictures by Shara Adams.